Midday Scan: Reardon as roadblock; Plan B ruling blocks state; Hanauer pushes Democrats

A 4-0 vote by the Snohomish County Council to ask him to leave: That seems to be Aaron Reardon's idea of a mere distraction. A federal judge sides with pharmacists on refusing to provide emergency contraception.

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Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon

A 4-0 vote by the Snohomish County Council to ask him to leave: That seems to be Aaron Reardon's idea of a mere distraction. A federal judge sides with pharmacists on refusing to provide emergency contraception.

The Aaron Reardon saga has reached a new level of Nixonian descent (far removed, still, from the Nixonian humility that eventually brought that dark chapter to an end.) The Snohomish County Executive, facing allegations of misusing public resources, is bucking calls that he take administrative leave. It's a curious and distracting narrative, as the primacy of one outsized ego subsumes what seems to be the greater public good. 

"The Snohomish County Council on Wednesday urged County Executive Aaron Reardon to voluntarily place himself on leave while he is the focus of a criminal investigation into his use of county resources," the Herald's Noah Haglund writes. "The council voted 4-0 to approve the resolution. The votes included three of Reardon's fellow Democrats and a Republican."

Reardon's refusal to yield is embedded in a self-posted video.  Now, the larger question is, who will eventually ape Gerald Ford and declare post-Reardon some local version of, "My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over?" 

Contraceptive politics are inherently tricky. Now they're even trickier. On Wednesday, a federal judge weighed in on the question of emergency contraception and the broader issue of religious liberty. It's a provocative argument.  

"Washington state cannot force pharmacies to sell Plan B or other emergency contraceptives, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, saying the state's true goal has been to suppress religious objections by druggists — not to promote timely access to the medicines for people who need them," the Associated Press's Gene Johnson writes. "U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton sided with a Ralph's Thriftway pharmacy and two pharmacists who said state rules requiring them to dispense Plan B violate their constitutional rights to freedom of religion because such drugs can prevent implantation of a fertilized egg, which they consider equal to abortion."  

Governors have a problem with legislators: They simply don't listen. Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber underlines the point, as the state legislature faces gridlock on various seminal issues including education reform and health care. As the Oregonian's Michele Cole writes, "A frustrated Gov. John Kitzhaber went public Wednesday with his concerns that his health care and education reforms -- identified early on as the marquee bills of the 2012 session — have gotten bogged down in partisan politics and may not survive."

Kitzhaber, a hands-on politico, could still succeed. The challenge is to overcome a political environment that militates against taking political risks.  

Education is a bugaboo for Democrats. Democrats are vigorous backers of public funding for schools, but they hesitate to step into labor quandaries. Is "reform" a code word for something nefarious?  Probably not, as the Seattle Times Lynne Varner opines." Major Democratic funder Nick Hanauer's recent email blasting Democratic lawmakers for failing to buck the teachers union and push for education reforms will go down as the tough-love message heard around the state," Varnes writes.  

Lastly, the Northwest's Ann Rule continues to rule. Her latest book project, on the Powell slayings, is likely to be a best seller. The larger question is whether Rule's work enhances public understanding or simply contributes to our voyeuristic proclivities. The News Tribune reports, "Crime writer Ann Rule plans a book on the story of Susan Cox Powell, who disappeared more than two years ago, and her husband, Josh, who killed himself and their two sons in a fiery blaze earlier this month." 

Link Summary

The Herald.  "Next move is Aaron Reardon's to make as Council asks him to take leave" 

Seattle Times, "Judge: State can't make druggists selll Plan B contraceptives" 

Oregonian, "Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber voices frustration that health care, education reforms are bottled up"

Seattle Times, "The overdue split among Democrats on education reform"

The News Tribune, "Anne Rule plans book on Powell slayings, disappearance"


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About the Authors & Contributors

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson is the former editorial-page editor of the Everett Herald. Follow him on Twitter @phardinjackson